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CR calls for immediate passage of “Sammy’s Law” in New York State to save lives and make city streets safer

Bill would allow New York City to set 20 mph speed limits as necessary for safety 

YONKERS, N.Y. – Consumer Reports today called on the New York State Assembly to immediately pass “Sammy’s Law” (S-2422/A-7266), a bill that would allow New York City to set speed limits as low as 20 miles per hour. Currently, New York State law prohibits the City from setting speed limits below 25 miles per hour, except in school zones. The bill, which passed the Senate on Tuesday, is named for Sammy Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old boy struck and killed by a van driver just a few blocks from his home in 2013, after he went to retrieve a soccer ball.

In 2021, there were 7,388 pedestrians killed and approximately 60,000 injured in vehicle crashes on public roads in the U.S. Of those killed, 1,184 were children 14 or younger. Overall, annual pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have increased by more than 80% since 2009.

William Wallace, associate director of safety policy at Consumer Reports, said, “Residents of New York City or any community should be able to get lower speed limits on local streets, if that’s what they want to help protect their loved ones. The evidence is clear that you are much more likely to survive and avoid a serious injury if you’re hit by a car at twenty miles per hour instead of twenty-five. Consumer Reports strongly supports the courageous parents and advocates who are leading the push for Sammy’s Law, and we urge the Assembly to pass the bill without delay.”

According to a nationally representative survey of 2,088 U.S. adults conducted by Consumer Reports in January 2023, about half of Americans (53%) say that they feel pedestrians are more likely to be hit by vehicles today than they were five years ago, and just 5% believe pedestrians are less likely to be hit by vehicles. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say they or a family member has been hit by a car or has had a close call as a pedestrian in the past year.

Consumer Reports thinks no one should have to fear for their safety while crossing the street or riding their bike. To help make the strongest possible case for change, CR is asking for people to share their stories of being hit by a vehicle or having a close call while walking, biking, or using a wheelchair or motorized scooter. These stories will be used to press policymakers for strong new standards that will ensure vital safety technology comes standard on all new cars.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org